Supporting the local response to the climate emergency
Around a third of the UK’s emissions are within the power or influence of local authorities and their communities.
This simple fact is the starting point for all our work on climate — mySociety has long experience in digital services around government, and we know this is where we can have the most impact. To this end, we’re deploying our skills in research, design, mapping, and development.
And, most of all, we’re making climate-related data more accessible. We believe that more information makes for better-informed action, so everything we do puts richer, more usable data into the open, where everyone can use it.
But data on its own isn’t always helpful — so where infrastructure is lacking, we’re doing what we can to build it.
We are working across several projects on climate at any one time. Keep revisiting this page to see what’s new, or subscribe to our newsletter above.
Our current focuses
Climate Action Scorecards
mySociety is providing technical and development support to Climate Emergency UK for their Council Climate Action Scorecards.
In collaboration with Dark Matter Labs, we’re developing incentives for communities to take the first steps in home energy saving and domestic retrofit, based on the power of collective commitment. Encouraging actions such as thermal imaging and insulation, this project explores how to use digital to prompt initial pathways to action.
TOOLS FOR CLIMATE ACTION
Local Intelligence Hub
For the Climate Coalition, a broad coalition of over 100 organisations, representing 22 million people between them, we’re working on an open source data-sharing platform.
The Local Intelligence Hub pulls together local engagement and organising with national influence strategy, pooling insight about political landscape, opinion, local areas and movement. It will be launching to the public in late 2023.
DATA FOR CLIMATE ACTION
We collated a database of every UK council’s climate action plan, then brought in additional data to give rich context. It’s an invaluable resource for researchers, journalists and campaigners, and perhaps most vitally, for councils to learn from one another. See more here.
Current research focus
We’re commissioning an analysis of Environmental Information Requests on WhatDoTheyKnow to discover how they are working in practice at the local level. EIR requests have many similarities with Freedom of Information requests, but are also distinct in important ways. We want to find out what impact they are having, and might have, on climate action.
Current prototyping focus
As part of our prototyping activity (see more below) we’re exploring how best to disseminate the results of climate assemblies in the UK. Via a week of discussion we’ll begin from the idea of a light-weight repository and a database of assembly outcomes. More details to follow as they emerge.
How we’re working on Climate
Digital technologies can make it easier for everyone to examine, understand and participate in the ecosystem of local climate action. With the provision of high quality and up to date information about what’s happening locally and in other areas with similar contexts, and by delivering digital services that support coordination and engagement between communities and institutions, we can improve the ability of local actors to work together in the service of common goals.
|Public participation to drive climate action
By improving the local level knowledge of citizens and civil society, we’re enabling them to engage more effectively in democratic processes and create the political space for climate action.
|Local government learning, action and innovation
By collecting and providing better data, we’re giving local governments the information they need to learn from and engage with each other, and fully involve their constituents in the development and implementation of more ambitious and effective climate policies.
|The information ecosystem
We’re improving the information ecosystem to allow local and national campaigns, policymakers and other stakeholders to undertake better scrutiny and analysis of local climate action, and develop evidence-based policies and solutions.
|UK and international scaling
We’ll be sharing our approach, open source code and tools to kickstart a community of practice around climate action and civic technology that helps others around the world tackle the local civic and democratic challenges of climate action.
Increasing our impact
Partnerships and outreach
As well as working with key partners, we’ll be looking to collaborate with and support the work of a diverse range of groups and networks active within local climate action. Some of the areas we’ll need help with are in testing early versions of services, reaching others who can benefit from our work, and feeding back on your needs.
Our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion
Led by our EDI policy, we’ll prioritise partnerships and collaboration with, and support (including financial support), organisations who are led by minoritised groups* and are working for equality. We encourage anyone involved in those groups to get in touch directly with suggestions for ways we could work together, or just to explore potential.
*Initially this means:
- People with Black, Asian or other minority ethnic heritage
- Disabled people
- People who are disadvantaged by their social and/or economic background or circumstances
- People who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex + (LGBTQI+)
A people’s assembly to advise Parliament
mySociety created the digital platform to support Climate Assembly UK — a citizens’ assembly commissioned by six House of Commons Select Committees.
The assembly looked at how the UK will reach its net zero emissions climate target by 2050, and recommended measures that can be put in place to help reduce carbon emissions.
Research and policy
Through both commissioned and inhouse research, we’re exploring the local climate data infrastructure, and, where we find it lacking, doing what we can to fill the gaps ourselves, or advocate for better provision.
We run rapid prototyping weeks at intervals. These help us decide, from a number of different possible climate projects, which to take forward.
Exploring potential solutions and inviting input from experts in each area, by the end of each week we produce a mock-up of what a finished project could look like.
In 2022 we prototyped digital tools in areas as wide-ranging as local government contracts to energy efficiency in the private rented sector, and more. This year we’re planning on innovating around climate assemblies.
We document everything in detail, so others can benefit from our findings — even around the projects we’re not planning to develop further.
How our services help others to help the environment
mySociety’s services have always helped citizens speak truth to power, and that’s proving extremely useful in demanding action around the climate emergency.
From placing FOI requests to asking MPs what they’re doing, the tools are all in place for immediate use.
Looking to ourselves
Our own climate response
- We’ve set up an internal Climate Action Group to research issues and bring recommendations to the wider organisation
- We’re cutting non-essential travel, and offsetting where travel is vital
- We’re incentivising staff to travel by land or sea for holidays
- We’re holding all suppliers to account to demand better environmental policies
- We’re extending the life of computer and server hardware
- And we’re sharing our journey as we research what makes a real difference, and what’s just greenwashing. See our developing environment policy.